Paul's Passing Thoughts

Why the “Sinner’s Prayer” is NOT the Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 10, 2015

ppt-jpeg4Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to lead someone into salvation by reciting the “sinner’s prayer,” and there is a reason for that; it’s not the gospel. The following is a typical rendition of said Prayer:

“Heavenly Father, I come to you in prayer asking for the forgiveness of my sins. I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is your Son, and that he died on the cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven and have eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and I ask you right now to come into my life and be my personal lord and savior. I repent of my sins and will worship you all the days of my life. Because your word is truth, I confess with my mouth that I am born again and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

The great danger of something like this becoming an orthodox canned ritual to obtain salvation is fully realized in our day. As a recovering baptaholic, I have witnessed the falling away of most people who are “saved” by this prayer or responding to an alter call at an institutional church. Also, I have witnessed the lack of alarm following in response to this reality.

Why the lack of alarm? It’s the “prayer of faith” that saves and not the realty of it. Let me repeat that: It’s the “prayer of faith” that saves and NOT the reality of it. “It” being the reality of salvation itself. Salvation is a reality and not a mere mental assent to the facts of the gospel. However, no evidence of a new life is acceptable in Protestant circles because its gospel is a “believing only” definition of faith rather than a decision. The difference is major.

Note the structure of the prayer; it’s a disaster. Why? First of all, on the one hand, it calls for belief only rather than a decision, coupled with a commitment: “[I] will worship you all the days of my life.” Totally confusing. Is salvation by faith alone or not? “Repentance” is NOT a commitment, it is a change of mind—it is a decision to go in a different direction; specifically, from death to life.

And that is the crux: the new birth. Though the new birth is in the prayer, it is framed as something that you believe mentally only rather than something that you decide to accept as a gift. Salvation is a decision to accept the gift of the Spirit and His baptism. It is a onetime decision to follow Christ in death and resurrection, and this is only possible through the gift of the Holy Spirit otherwise known as the new birth. Salvation is NOT, I repeat, not… “Asking Jesus into my heart” or “Asking Jesus to come into my life.” No, no, no, and in fact, where are we told in Scripture to “ask” for salvation? We are told to “believe” (mental assent to the facts of the gospel) AND repent – a decision to follow Christ in death and resurrection, or a passing from death to life made possible by the Spirit, and “you WILL” receive the GIFT of God’s PROMISE concerning the Spirit (Acts 2:37-39). I hope you see the major difference here.

The correct gospel has an expectation of new life built in. It is a decision to die to the old self and become new with Christ who also received the promise of the Spirit when He resurrected Christ from the grave (Galatians 3:16). Christ paid the penalty for our sins, but without the promise of the Spirit, there is NO salvation. An overemphasis on some “receiving of Christ” in lieu of the promise of the Spirit is an ill advised gospel presentation (Galatians 3:1,2).

Salvation is a decision to accept a promise to all people. It is a repentance, not an asking. When one decides to turn from their old self to a new self made anew by the promise of the Spirit, they WILL receive the promise. This is EXACTLY what Christ was talking about when he said “follow me.” This is EXACTLY what Christ was talking about in regard to losing one’s life in order to find it. He was talking about the promise. He was talking about passing from death to life. He was talking about the new birth. He was talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, the reality of Protestant professions that do not pan-out in large numbers is due to a canned orthodox gospel that exchanges a promise for an ambiguous “asking Jesus into my heart.” It redefines the promise of the Spirit and denies the reality of a literal passing from death to life.

This is why the “walk of the new man” is optional in regard to any great concern in the institutional church while the flippant truism “We are all just sinners saved by grace” plays in our minds like a bad song that we cannot get out of our heads.

By its fruit the tree is known.

paul

Susan Dohse: The First Gospel Wave and Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 28, 2014
%d bloggers like this: